Juan Carlos Thomas
Current Organization: TechnoServe
Fellows Assignment: Chile, 2006
His experience: amazing, rewarding, challenging.
Why did you apply to the TechnoServe Fellows Program?
I first encountered TechnoServe during a field trip to South Africa as part of my MBA studies. I just couldn’t believe I had found an organization of such highly talented and motivated people implementing business development for the good of the world. It was just what I was looking for!
What was your experience like on the ground as a Fellow?
I worked as a Fellow for one year, figuring out how to start TechnoServe’s operation in Chile from scratch and raising funds to do so. At the end of the year we got a contract with a local energy company to design and implement its local development strategy, and we also got contracts with a large international development organization and global bank to run a business plan competition in several countries, including Chile.
My experience as a Fellow was extremely challenging and rewarding – just amazing! I used to work in corporate finance, an industry well-regarded for its challenging environment, but starting a TechnoServe country operation from scratch just stretched my senses and capabilities in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. And in the end, the reward of having had the opportunity to touch people’s lives for good, it just completed the package.
How has the TechnoServe Fellows Program impacted you and your career?
Being a TechnoServe Fellow changed my life completely for the better. I have stayed with TechnoServe for ten years, starting as the Country Director for TechnoServe Chile, and now serving as the Global Entrepreneurship Director. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from such an amazing team, and to work with them to help people develop businesses and overcome their economic vulnerabilities.
However, probably the most important lesson I’ve learned has come from the people TechnoServe works with. Every opportunity I have to learn more in-depth about their lives I see the resilience they have developed in order to overcome difficulties you might not otherwise notice – it just amazes me. I couldn’t admire them more, and I wish their example could be shared to further inspire others as well.
Where are you now and what are you doing?
I just assumed the role of the Global Entrepreneurship Director at TechnoServe, with the mission of expanding our work supporting entrepreneurs around the world and creating more opportunities for them, their employees, their families, and their communities.
What advice would you give someone applying to the program?
If you want to be challenged and you are passionate about business development for good, you won’t find a better place to be.